I have lost my only hive this winter. Today ws the first day I felt the temps were warm enough to check. They are all dead. This wasa very strong hive going into the winter. There is plenty of honey stores. They are clustered in several areas about four. The rest are on the sides. It looks like there is a lot of dark droppings on the top bars and in the miller feeder that I kept in there incase I needed to feed them at some point. Lots of dead bees there too. The clusters are wet looking. It's been too cold for them to fly here all winter. I'm in NH. Did they die from condensation or because they couldn't make a cleansing flight? Any other options?
Greetings . . .
Please tell us how/what you did last summer and fall.
What ventilation method did you use?
When did you last monitor mite levels?
How many mites?
Did you treat? How?
How much honey did they have last fall?
How much honey is left?
Where is the honey? Top super, bottom super?
Tell us more. Someone will help.
Sorry about your loss Laura. Your situation sounds like mine only I lost 7 of 8 hives. The only reasonable thing to do is count the drawn comb etc as your crop and order more bees. I have a cellar full of honey, and a freezer full of pollen frames.
I wintered in 2 deeps, with a miller feeder on top, full of cedar shavings but with the wire part unimpeded. (of course an outer cover on that.) I used FGMO weekly (fogging) until Aug 15 when I left town. I returned in time to fog them once or twice before they clustered. I tried to feed Fumidol but I was too late and they wouldn't take the feed. In a few places I found small clusters of brood that died as they were about to emerge. They were mummified quite hard. Could this be chalkbrood? I think it was just so cold so long here in Ct. that they couldn't get a cleansing flight or move sideways to their ample stores. They all had plenty of honey.
I tried fumadil B but they didn't take it in the fall. The bottom super was pretty empty the top super was very heavy ( I could barely lift it). It was completly full of stores going into winter. I didn't treat with Apistan strips in the fall. The miller feeder was empty and I didn't fill it with anything once the cold weather hit.
I haven't taken the whole hive apart yet. I just went out to see how they were and since I was snowshoing to get there I didn't bring my tools with me. I will check tomorrow to see exactly how many frames are full of honey.
The hive has some ventiltion spaces between the supers. Very small cracks carved out. Big enough for air, but not bees.
I did feed them in late October before it got too cold.
There was one other thing I saw. On one cluster in the bottom super there seemed to be wood shavings. Very fine....almost like that left behind by ants. I didn't see any evidence of mice.
There was bee excrement in many places on the inside, nothing on the outside of the hive.
All the bees were new last spring and treated with Apistan before they were shipped.
Hope this gives some helpful information. Any feedback I can get will be appreciated.
I'm very sorry to here about losing seven hives. That's a big loss.
I would also look closely for those little reddish brown dots on the bottom board. Most winter losses for most of us in recent times have been from Varroa.
The things like wood shavings are just cappings that the bees chewed off to eat.
I don't think bees die from not getting cleansing flights. They just make some messes inside from time to time just like we would if we couldn't go anywhere. I have observed this in hives and in observation hives, when there are no warm days for cleansing flights.
Sometimes they do die because there are no warm days to rearrange the stores and they starve with honey still in the hive.
i went into the fall with 27 hives,i've got 10 alive now.a lot of them died in the way you described,the hive didn't starve,thedead bees looked wet or oily,there was bee poop everywhere. i think that 1)the bees were weakened by varroa,2)because of the cold the bees in their weak state became sick with nosema or dysentary,3)i think the bad weather compounded the effects of the first two4)when the got small enough they couldn't maintain cluster heat or move and froze.my theory on the wet look is that honey from the open cells the bees were feeding on when they froze,oozed out over them and glazed them.any thoughts on this?
Did ya'll treat for tracheal mite's in the fall with menthol? the tracheal seem's to have taken a back set to the varroa mite,but they are still very much around.
The menthol is the one thing I didn't do that I should have. Although I used FGMO, I didn't really do it in the critical time. I never saw a varroa mite, ever. I thought it had to be warm to use the menthol and I wasn't home until lat Oct. Can you put a menthol towel in that late? They just clustered and went straight up. They died at the top with honey on both sides of them. An 8 frame hive (or 6 or 7,)in 3 or more deeps, would have put the stores where they could use them. Any thoughts?
Thanks for all the response. I get the feeling losses in the northeast will be high this year.
It looks like I need to get to a workshop on proper treatment of my hive. All the books I have are pretty old and there are new methods out there that I should be trying. What is the menthol treatment for and how should I use it?
I have a new package of carniolans coming this spring and I don't want to loose them like I did this one.
I will definately check for the mites on the bottom board.
You can see the varroa if you know what you are looking for. You can't see the tracheal mites with the naked eye. It could be either, both or something else. Usually it's some combinaion of things, but often the mites are the start of the downward spiral. Other things like nosema are usually opportunistic diseases that take advatage of the stress from the mites.
Iav That sounds like starvation to me the bees broke off into several clusters sometime during the winter searching for food.The Queen may have also started laying too early which would of made the entire cluster reluctant to move as a group when food ran short.I don't think theres much you could of done to prevent it unless you could have feed them during the winter.
If the bees were scattered, my guess is that tracheal mites are your problem but it's impossible to know for sure. They don't seem to cluster well when trac gets bad. The stress seems to induce spotting in the hive. We used to have a lot of this. Typically dead bees that are mite infested don't have their heads buried in the cells. They will be mostly on the outide of the combs. The other senario is that you have the mite infested bees scattered through the hive(dead) and you will have a small cluster that did starve to death because the cluster was too small to maintain itself.
I would suggest you find a bee club in your area. Most bee clubs are having classes during the spring. You might also try a new book on bees. I suggest "Beekeeping for Dummies". You might also find a mentor in your area that could help you.
I'm not sure how widespread the drought was along the east coast but in central PA, it made a big difference on the bees. In one apiary I just checked I lost 7 out of 22. All the hives were strong as so I thought. In August and Sept. there was hardly any necture or pollen and a very early frost killed the goldenrod and thus no fall honey. I think that hives were effected by queens shuting down for too long of a period, then a very long period of time when temps barely got above freezing. There were simply not enough bees to handle the harsh winter. All hives had plenty of honey and pollen. I looked at the hives for the first time this past weekend and the previous peek was 18 December. I can't remember a recent winter where it didnt get above freezing for so long. I do know that nature has a way of taking care of the weak, and no matter what, I will occassionally lose a hive but maybe I'm a little bit better in the long run. My only question is, did you judge the strength of the hive on the number of bees, and perhaps there was no brood at a very crucial time of the fall and the bees dwindled after your last inspection?
It could be the problem. I couldn't get into the frames in the bottom super because the bees were just too ornery on my last inspection. They were a nasty hive. I checked the top super and it was full of stores. I didn't see any brood in the top super. I did lift the bottom super to check for weight and it was around 50 pounds. I have a kayak that weighs 56 lbs so I have a good sense of how much weight that is. My only thought at the time was that the weight of the hive was good and so they must be prepared for winter. There were a lot of bees. I'm learning quite a bit here. Thanks for all the input. I will definately try to eliminate the mistakes I made this year.
Its a shame to lose any hive, but it sounds like you were ready for a requeening if the bees were nasty. It isn;t any pleasure to work with hostile bees, the Carnolians are suppose to be very gentle and I think you will even enjoy your bees more than your last try. Keep me posted with your new package Thanks
Yours in the hobby
Were the bees that died Italians? I lost my only hive too and live in the Northeast. This was one of the worst winters in my memory. I am a novice but I wondered if Carniolans might have handled the winter better. Just a thought. Diana in Southeastern MA
i got a few new world carns last year,and thet did better than most,i also like the russian/caucasian mix survivor stock from olympic wilderness.
Is Olympic Wilderness a mail order? Our Bee Club has a Beekeeper who drives to Georgia every Spring to bring back bees. They only have Italians where he goes. I am told that getting the bees directly rather than mail order is better. I would really like to have Carniolans. The people in our club got Carniolan queens and requeened rather than getting a Carniolan package. One things for sure, Massachusetts isn't Italy
getting queens in the mail is easy,it's funny to watch the postman carry it out like they might escape at any second.olympic wilderness apiaries has a web site,he has queens available around midsummer.strachen apiaries is where i bought my new world carniolans(www.strachenbees.com).b weaver in texas also has good bees,buckfast,smr russians,harbo.and taber's which has a carniolan/russian cross that i like.when you order your queens try to make sure the don't end up sitting in some mailroom over a weekend;get them express early in the week.